Courage vs. Fear

Friday FINISH – March 13, 2020

Due to the Coronavirus panic of March 2020, my weekend plans to Lake Tahoe were cancelled for an anniversary getaway my wife and I had been so excited for. We were pretty bummed about the adventure we had to put on hold, but knew it was the safer bet. Truthfully we weren’t that concerned about the actual virus, but more concerned about being quarantined away from our kids or stuck on a tarmac somewhere. I hate acting out of fear, and felt that was what we were doing at the time, but we had put our kids and family first. The majority of news and media were speaking doomsday talk as the stock market had it’s biggest day down since the 1987 crash. Schools cancelled, churches cancelled, Spring Breaks extended on college campuses – with the understanding that they would likely have to finish the semester online. Apparently the Costco near my home did 1.2 million in sales on its biggest day during the Christmas season just a few months prior, but went on to earn 1.5 million on March 12th, with people lined up out the door to get napkins, paper products and bulk food. (An valuable lesson on how Costco was prepared and capitalized on it.)

The first day of our Tahoe trip was going to be business, it was an office design tour that I wanted to attend to extract some ideas from for my new building in progress. I was excited to get some big picture ideas and further develop my plan for this big, long-term investment for my team, our patients and my family. 

I strongly believe that there is a reason for everything, even when I can’t understand why. I am a man of faith, and know that when one door closes, another opens. I’ve been frustrated so many times in the past when something didn’t work out, that finally one day I realized to always look for the opportunity in a good or bad experience. I have always been a glass half-full kind of guy, but I also have a short temper about certain things, and have let that get in the way too many times, only to later realize how much limited time and precious energy were wasted on getting hung up on something that later I would laugh about or feel foolish for being so short sighted. 

Through the many ups and downs of life’s adventures, I’ve learned that the quicker I can turn “skinning my knees” into squeezing out the valuable lessons and using them as a stepping stone for improving my life plan, the easier it is to find the nuggets of wisdom in an experience. 

John Maxwell calls these “learning opportunities” and terms it “failing forward.” I once read that in business we have only two outcomes from an event, 1) learning opportunities and 2) success – there are no actual failures. We can fail at something, but we shouldn’t label someone as a “failure” based on one static moment in time. Schools are notorious for motivating us more out of fear of not failing rather than the creative output that can come from the right kind of motivation inspiring real learning. All of this may sound too idealistic to you at first glance, but if you develop this mindset it sure makes it a lot easier to sleep at night. Some of my biggest failures in the past have totally changed my business and leadership outlook for the better, even though it took some time to develop. 

Plato is quoted as saying “courage is knowing what not to fear.” This is more important during a virtual outbreak, stock market crash or slow month in your practice. You can’t live in fear and have a good life. Not only does it make you feel terrible, but it does not allow your creative mind the ability to grow and produce new ideas and systems to build up your practice, taking your thermometer (we use whiteboard thermometers to measure production and collections on a monthly basis) of progress to the next level.

Remember to stay ahead of the majority, because as Dan Kennedy says, the majority is usually wrong, otherwise the 80/20 rule wouldn’t apply, nor would the most productive and most wealthy people be where they are today. They are the minority. Developing your mind, your education and your team is one of the best ways to avoid living in fear and to live in a mindset of growth and abundance. If the economy zigs, it’s time for you to zag. Do the opposite. If you have to close for a few days due to unforeseen circumstances, use them as personal days or planning days to boost your morale and inspire bold new ideas to take your team and practice to the next level.

Have a fantastic week!

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